A year ago our research showed Europe had an €800 billion stock of bad loans. In our latest Global Financial Stability Report we show that the problem has now grown to more than €900 billion. This stock of nonperforming loans is concentrated in the hardest hit economies, with two-thirds located in just six euro area economies. The European Central Bank’s Asset Quality Review confirmed this picture, which revealed that the majority of banks in many of these economies had high levels of nonperforming assets (see chart 1).
By José Viñals
The three main messages from this Global Financial Stability Report are:
- Risks to the global financial system have risen since October and have rotated to parts of the financial system where they are harder to assess and harder to address.
- Advanced economies need to enhance the traction of monetary policies to achieve their goals, while managing undesirable financial side effects of low interest rates.
- To withstand the global crosscurrents of lower oil prices, rising U.S. policy rates, and a stronger dollar, emerging markets must increase the resilience of their financial systems by addressing domestic vulnerabilities.
Let me now discuss these findings in detail.
By Evan Papageorgiou When the U.S. Federal Reserve first mentioned in 2013 the prospect of a cutback in its bond buying program, markets had a “taper tantrum.” Many emerging markets saw large increases in volatility, even though outflows from their domestic markets were small and short-lived. Now the Fed has ended its bond buying and is looking ahead to rate hikes, and portfolio flows continue to arrive at the shores of emerging market economies. So everything’s fine, right? Not quite. In our latest Global Financial Stability Report, we show that the large concentration of advanced economy capital invested in emerging markets acts as a conduit of shocks from the former to the latter. (more…)
Banks are struggling to overhaul the way they do business given new realities and new regulations adopted in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. While banks are generally stronger—they have more capital—they are less profitable, as measured by the return on equity. There are a number of reasons behind this, including: anemic net income at banks, particularly in the euro area; higher levels of equity; and banks taking fewer risks.
If they cannot change their business models, there is a risk that banks will not be able to provide enough credit to help the economy grow and recover.
The global financial crisis reminded us that banks often take risks that are excessive from society’s point of view and can damage the economy. In part, this is the result of the incentives embedded in compensation practices and of inadequate monitoring by stakeholders. Our analysis found the right policies could reduce banks risky behavior.
In our latest Global Financial Stability Report we take stock of recent developments in executive pay, corporate governance, and bank risk taking, and conduct a novel empirical analysis.
Low interest rates and other central bank policies in the United States have sent investors looking for higher returns on their investments. Money is pouring into mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, which is fueling a mispricing of credit and a build-up of risks to liquidity in the markets—the ability to trade in assets of any size, at any time, and to find a ready buyer.
Mutual funds and exchange-trade funds are the largest owners of U.S. corporate and foreign bonds (Chart 1). This means they provide a lot of credit to grease the wheels of the financial system because they have taken investors' money and lent it to corporates.
Six years after the start of the global financial crisis, low interest rates and other central bank policies in the United States remain critical to encourage economic risk-taking—increased consumption by households, and greater willingness to invest and hire by businesses. However, this prolonged monetary ease also may have encouraged excessive financial risk-taking. Our analysis in the latest Global Financial Stability Report suggests that although economic benefits are becoming more evident, U.S. officials should remain alert to excessive financial risk-taking, particularly in lower-rated corporate debt markets.
Bullish financial risk-taking bears monitoring
Persistently low global interest rates have prompted investors to search for higher returns in a wide range of markets, such as stocks, and investment-grade and high-yield bonds. This has resulted in escalating asset prices, and enabled issuers to sell assets with a reduced degree of protection for investors (we give you an example below). The combined trends of more expensive assets and a weakening quality of issuance could pose risks to stability.
By José Viñals
I have three key messages for you today:
1. Policymakers are facing a new global imbalance: not enough economic risk-taking in support of growth, but increasing excesses in financial risk-taking posing stability challenges.
2. Banks are safer but may not be strong enough to vigorously support the recovery. And risks are shifting to the shadow banking system in the form of rising market and liquidity risks. If left unaddressed, these risks could compromise global financial stability.
3. In order to address this new global imbalance, we must promote economic risk-taking by improving the transmission of monetary policy to the real economy. And we must address financial excesses through better micro- and macroprudential policies.
Shadow banking has grown by leaps and bounds around the world in the last decade. It is now worth over $70 trillion. We take a closer look at what has driven this growth to help countries figure out what policies to use to minimize the risks involved.
In our analysis, we’ve found that shadow banks are both a boon and a bane for countries. Many people are worried about institutions that provide credit intermediation, borrow and lend money like banks, but are not regulated like them and lack a formal safety net. The largest shadow banking markets are in the United States and Europe, but in emerging markets, they have also expanded very rapidly, albeit from a low base.
(Versions in 中文)
“Shadow” banking: a surprisingly colorful term for our staid economics profession. Intended or not, it conjures images of dark, sinister, and even shady transactions. With a name like “shadow banking” it must be bad. This is unfair. While the profession lacks a uniform definition, the idea is financial intermediation that takes place outside of banks—and this can be good, bad, or otherwise.
Our goal here is to shine a light on shadow banking in China. We at the IMF have used many terms. Last year, we had a descriptive one, albeit a mouthful—off-balance sheet and nonbank financial intermediation. The April 2014 Global Financial Sector Report (GFSR) called it nonbank intermediation. This year our China Article IV report used the term shadow banking.